Living here

To the editor:

Aside from the natural beauty of this rugged land that we enjoy, there once was a more profound sense of community not typical of contemporary America in this place that we all call home.

Though I worked as a professor at Tech, I never sensed much of a town/gown divide that is so typical of most college towns. The very occasional “college-boy” good-natured ribbing from the coffee crew at Tina’s or the Suomi rather ironically let me know that I had been accepted into the community.

Town folk came in all shapes and sizes; young and old, rich and poor. Yet, in the diners, at the park, or at a community event, there was the sense that everybody belonged, everybody counted, and everybody mattered. Some had much more, many had less. Some watched the boats from the park, and some the park from the boats; yet, when our paths crossed along the way, we acted like we all belonged here, together.

One morning, in the late 1970’s, as I walked out of my apartment to my car, I discovered a disheveled old man sleeping on the hood of my car. A passing police car happened to pull up, the officer gently woke the guy up, and escorted him off the hood. The cop put the old guy in the passenger seat of the patrol car and said that he’d drive him back to his rooming house. He said, “He gets a little mixed up from time-to-time.” A place where everybody counts.

The local radio and print news focused mostly on seasonal activities, sports, and the garden variety events that constitute small town living. Stories often ended with the phrase, “a good time was had by all.”

And, over the years, despite our harsh winters, dwindling local job prospects, and the more recent incursion of the increasingly acrimonious public discourse that threatens the very existence of our Country, there remains in our little communities an enduring sense that everyone matters and has standing; that this place is, indeed, someplace special.

During this season of twinkling lights and freshly fallen snow, I hope we all might take a moment to reflect on the idea that we are very lucky to live in this place and among these people.

I’ve learned a great deal by living in this places and among you all.


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